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New Zealand: MPI welcomes judgment on pork imports

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is pleased with the Court of Appeal judgment which found that MPI followed the correct decision-making process before allowing imports of raw pork from countries where the disease Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) is present.

At issue in this case was MPI’s response to an Independent Review Panel report and the process that led to the director-general’s decision to issue four new import health standards for raw pork.

NZ Pork had alleged MPI did not follow the correct decision-making process.

“Agriculture is vitally important to our economy. In order to protect our primary producers from biosecurity risks, it is essential that we do the right thing when developing import health standards and that we base them on the best available science,” MPI director-general Wayne McNee says.

“It is pleasing that the Appeal Court has reiterated what the High Court has already found – that MPI did indeed follow the right process in developing measures for raw pork imports,” he says.

In dismissing NZ Pork’s appeal, the Court found that the appellant’s submission could be construed as a call for the consultation process to continue indefinitely while NZ Pork continued to debate the relevant science with MPI.

MPI’s primary concern when developing the new import health standards was to ensure they would effectively manage the risk of diseases such as PRRS establishing in New Zealand.

MPI spent almost a decade assessing all available science, carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment process and consulting extensively with affected parties and international experts before introducing the new import rules.

Before 2001, raw pork was imported with no restrictions for over 10 years and no outbreaks of PRRS occurred.

“While the new import health standards are less restrictive than standards applying since 2001, we are confident they effectively manage the risks of diseases, including PRRS, from establishing in New Zealand,” Mr McNee says.

The only form of raw pork that can be imported under the new requirements without further treatment from countries with PRRS will be consumer-ready cuts that weigh less than 3kg and free from specific lymphatic tissue.

Interim orders granted to NZPork, staying the introduction of the new import health standards, lapse 14 days post judgment.

The Biosecurity Act 1993 makes MPI responsible for deciding what biosecurity measures are needed to effectively manage any risks associated with the importation of risk goods, and it outlines what matters MPI must consider in making such decisions.

An overview outlining the development of the import health standards for raw pig meat from the European Union, Canada, USA and Sonora State of Mexico is available, click here.

Pig Progress

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